Oregon Afterschool Virtual Conference 2020 Session Descriptions

Tuesday, October 13th

10:00am – 12:00pm Mental Health 101, Parker Sczepanik

This workshop for educators, providers, parents, and community members covers data, facts and research around suicide that guides the work of talking about mental health and the importance of mental wellness. ​We define mental health terminology, raise awareness around suicide, discuss protective and risk factors, as well as identify YouthLine as a resource for the youth and young adults in your communities. Presented by Parker Sczepanik, Assistant Director of YouthLine Outreach and Education, Lines for Life. Set 1 Health Safety Nutrition

12:00pm – 1:00pm Implementing Programs Safely

Facilitated conversation to discuss and share best practices for implementing health & safety guidance in afterschool and out-of-school programs. Participants will identify individual challenges and opportunities for engaging youth in building healthy, safe routines into the program.  Set 1 Health Safety Nutrition

6:00pm – 8:00pm Art to Promote Youth Voice Rachel Kessler

This hands on training gives afterschool facilitators tools for sharing empowering art with school age youth. We will explore activities aligned with national art standards. We will find flexible ways to use a variety of materials, create an inclusive atmosphere for youth, explore youth voice, and offer youth skills for interacting positively in groups. Example curriculum will be provided. Set 2 Learning Environment Curriculum

Wednesday, October 14th

10:00-12:00 Helping Stressed Out Kids, Kassy Rousselle

In this session participants will examine how stress affects adults and children on physiological level. Explore the signs and symptoms exhibited in children experiencing stress. We will discuss the different components of what makes stress positive vs. negative, the changes that happen on a chemical level, how to recognize signs of stress, and strategies to combat negative stress. Set 2 Health Safety Nutrition

1:00pm – 3:00pm Responding to Adi’s Act: Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention Policy Step by Step Kahae Rikeman

COVID-19 has changed the landscape for suicide prevention in Oregon. Additionally, Adi’s Act requires that schools in Oregon have a suicide prevention, intervention and postvention plan. This workshop will help participants prioritize suicide prevention planning through Lines for Life’s Suicide Prevention and Wellness Program, identify additional Oregon resources and better understand ways to connect with students and their families.

6:00pm – 8:00pm Is Inclusion still a thing? Melinda Benson

Today’s learning environment is challenging at best, how do we support all children in their growth and development? Let’s talk about what inclusion means, how important it is, especially now, and most importantly, how to individualize the supports that we provide for all children and their families. Come discuss your experiences, strengths and challenges so we can learn from each other. Set 1 Special Needs

Thursday, October 15th

10:00am – 12:00pm How Playful Adults Model Play for Children in Afterschool, Kassy Rousselle

Having time to play as an adult has more benefits than most realize. Adults, especially in afterschool programs, are the role models for kids and communicate with them on a regular basis. Therefore it’s important to be able to understand their language – play! Participants will explore how kids learn critical lifelong skills through play and examine their own sense of play. Set 2 Human Growth and Development

1:00pm – 3:00pm Supporting Equitable Practices, Rachel Kessler

Participants will explore and apply strategies for engaging youth in conversations around racial justice issues they have experienced or observed. Set 1 Diversity Equity Inclusion

6:00pm – 8:00pm Developing Your Own Purposeful Questions, Leilani Larsen

In this session participants will explore and practice questioning strategies to increase and enhance learning in informal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities in afterschool programs. Set 2 Learning Environments Curriculum

Friday, October 16th

10am – 5pm Open Minds, Open Spaces: From Pivot to Reimagine Virtual Experience

Saturday, October 17th

10:00am – 12:00pm Is Inclusion still a thing? Melinda Benson

Today’s learning environment is challenging at best, how do we support all children in their growth and development? Let’s talk about what inclusion means, how important it is, especially now, and most importantly, how to individualize the supports that we provide for all children and their families. Come discuss your experiences, strengths and challenges so we can learn from each other. Set 1 Special Needs

Tuesday, October 20th

10:00am – 12:00pm  Art to Promote Youth Voice, Rachel Kessler

This hands on training gives afterschool facilitators tools for sharing empowering art with school age youth. We will explore activities aligned with national art standards. We will find flexible ways to use a variety of materials, create an inclusive atmosphere for youth, explore youth voice, and offer youth skills for interacting positively in groups. Example curriculum will be provided. Set 2 Learning Environment Curriculum

6:00pm – 7:00pm STEM Programming Tips & Tricks, Rachel Kessler

This workshop will support quality implementation planning for STEM content. Participants will examine simple methods for offering STEM curriculum in programs, including Engagement strategies, facilitation tips, and evaluation considerations that move afterschool STEM opportunities toward quality goals. Set 1 Learning Environment Curriculum

Wednesday, October 21st

10:00am – 12:00pm Adopting Resilient Strategies for Youth and Adults Rick Robinson

Participants will examine the role stress plays in development and learning and key strategies to help the children they serve become tolerant, resilient and regulated when presented with challenges. Importantly, only a well-regulated adult can help a child regulate and during this session participants will develop concrete, specific, daily strategies that support adult regulation. Well-regulated adults have the ability to be present with children and utilize a mindset and approaches to relationships that facilitate supportive, regulating connections with them. Strategies to prepare for interactions, making initial contacts and maintaining connections with children will be examined and implemented. Set 2 (Pending) Health Safety Nutrition

3:00pm – 4:30pm Multi State Virtual Town Hall

6:00-8:00 PBIS Basics for Afterschool Providers Leilani Larsen

Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) is a research-based framework that is most successful when applied across all contexts of a student’s school and afterschool experiences. In this session, participants will learn the basic components of a PBIS system and how afterschool staff can integrate PBIS strategies into their program. Set 1 Understanding & Guiding Behavior

Thursday, October 22nd

10:00 – 11:00am Fall Programming Reflection, Bethany Thramer

Participants will discuss best practices, strategies and questions with peers from around Oregon. This session will function as a Community Conversation for program sharing, breakout rooms for questions and time to apply ideas for future implementation. Set 1 Professional Personal Learning Development

1:00pm – 2:30pm Supporting Youth With Anti-Racist, Trauma Informed Approaches, Mark Jackson

This training focuses on supporting youth with an Anti-Racist and Trauma Informed Care approaches that address structural and historic oppression and introduce the concept of how trauma affects people and their lives. This workshop outlines short-term and long-term effects of trauma, and other analyses of trauma and how it psychologically, socially and developmentally affects students. Set 2 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

6:00pm – 7:00pm Fall Programming Reflection, Bethany Thramer

Participants will discuss best practices, strategies and questions with peers from around Oregon. This session will function as a Community Conversation for program sharing, breakout rooms for questions and time to apply ideas for future implementation.

Summer Activity Guide

The Summer Activity Guides have been developed for the 50 State Afterschool Network with leadership from the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network to engage and support children and youth nationwide. These engaging and fun activities can be found here:

Quick Guides

Unit 5: Exploring My World

Unit 4: Invention & Imagination

Unit 3: Passion & Purpose

Unit 2: Healthy Life

Unit 1: Who I Am

Quality Professional Development

Oregon This is Afterschool Graphics 1600x900 Prof DevApril Afterzone Article – NAA Supporting Quality Professional Development

The National AfterSchool Association (NAA) is the national professional membership
association for people who work with and on behalf of youth during out-of-school time. We contribute to young people’s success by supporting, developing, and advocating for afterschool professionals and leaders. While we work at the national level, our state affiliates, who share similar values, (like OregonASK) work at the state level to promote quality afterschool programs and professional development. The state affiliations provide a variety of perspectives that help inform NAA’s strategy, while bringing professionals from affiliate states into the national movement—strengthening the development of the afterschool profession. The collective impact of the NAA affiliates can be seen in the 2018 Stronger Together Report.

In 2018, there were approximately 10.2 million young people in afterschool programs, along with 850,000 afterschool professionals. For every young person in an afterschool program, there are two more waiting to get in. If the quality afterschool for all young people goal is met, we will need another 850,000 skilled professionals—further demonstrating the need for developing a strong afterschool workforce.

Research shows that skilled staff are the linchpin to the program quality that produces positive youth outcomes. That’s why NAA focuses on supporting the afterschool professionals and leaders that work with and on behalf of young people. As a field, we’ve grappled with aspects of professional development—whether about funding or building a culture of professionalism that expects PD regularly in order to provide the best practice one can. These are demonstrated in The Systemic Disregard for Frontline Staff,
Program Staff are Our Most Valuable Asset, Act Accordingly, or Support Kids Less than Queso? Don’t Think So.

Last year, we wrote a chapter of The Growing Out-of-School Time Field: Past, Present, and Future with Melissa Fenton from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and generated five recommendations for building common knowledge and competencies for the afterschool workforce. These recommendations were created through adoption and implementation of the NAAs Core Knowledge and Competencies for Afterschool Professionals:

  1. Generate stronger evidence to strengthen the out-of-school time (OST) workforce.
  2. Increase political will and financing for professionalizing the workforce.
  3. Provide equitable access to high-quality professional development and learning.
  4. Create systems to recruit, retain and advance the leadership of the profession.
  5. Promote the vision of a cohesive and comprehensive workforce that includes
    individuals working in diverse OST settings.

Read more details and find out how to access the chapter here. If you are especially interested in strengthening the overall afterschool workforce, you might enjoy Strengthening the School-Age Workforce or Strengthening the OST Workforce.

We know afterschool professionals and leaders want to be inspired, to connect, to share and to learn. We also know that with the support of our association, state affiliates and each other, those in the afterschool profession can focus their energies on proactively supporting the mental health and emotional and physical safety of young people.

At NAA, we believe:

  • In the power of afterschool and the people who work with and on behalf of children and youth during out-of-school time.
  • That the passionate people in the afterschool profession are the key to building our
    future and the future of millions of kids.
  • That when adults invest quality time and compassion in young people, our youth rise to the challenge of making the world a better place for themselves and others.
  • That afterschool makes a difference in the lives of young people, our communities and our nation.
  • That strong afterschool leaders develop the skilled professionals and teams that run
    strong organizations and quality programs that result in positive youth outcomes.
  • Afterschool is powerful today and has the potential to be even more so in the future.
  • The power of afterschool and we believe in you!

That’s why over the course of the next year and beyond, afterschool professionals and leaders can expect more efforts to build the profession and resources that support afterschool professionals and leaders. If you have a passion for positive youth outcomes, value your development and the development of others, constantly strive for quality, and want to belong to the movement that’s advancing the profession … continue to engage with OregonASK and join us.

Don’t wait for good PD, go out and find it!
Written by Heidi Ham, NAA’s Vice President of Programs and Strategy.

Self-Care Resources for Providers

Health Activities that can be done individually or as a group:
Healthy Recipes:
Physical, Emotional, Mental, Social, Financial & Purpose Wellbeing Podcasts:

Afterschool Access & Equity Focus Groups

Traveling Oregon to Hear from Parents and Youth

In the fall of 2017, OregonASK convened our first focus groups with youth talking about accessibility to opportunities they are interested in and their sense of belonging to programs they are in. From there, we convened a group of stakeholders to form our Data Design Team that helped us determine what our objectives and methods would be for our Afterschool Access & Equity Research Project.

In the fall 2018, we went out on the road again with our clarified objectives, questions and focus group protocols to talk with youth and parents around Oregon. We have already visited; McMinnville, Klamath Falls, Cow Creek Tribal Community Center, Umatilla, Pendleton, Eugene, Gold Beach,  and Independence. In January, we will be hosting groups in the Portland Metro region and Woodburn.

We will be creating an interim report in February 2019 to help synthesize what we have heard so far and share our message with key decision makers throughout the state. We will continue to partner with local programs, regional Hubs, and state agency representatives to reach a broad, representative sampling of families from around the state.

Klamath Falls on October 18th –  Participant Youth, Participant and Non-Participant Parent Groups

Cow Creek Tribal Community Center on October 19th – Participant Youth, Participant and Non-Participant Parent Interviews

Umatilla on October 23rd – Youth Participant Group & Participant Parent Interviews

Pendleton High School on October 24th – Youth Non-Participant Group

Eugene on November 15th – Participant Parent Interviews

Gold Beach on December 11th – Participant Youth Group, Participant and Non-Participant Parent Interviews

Independence on December 13th – Non-Participant Youth and Parent Groups


OAC Banner Proof1-01

View 2017 OAC Brochure with Session Descriptions

The focus of our Afterschool Conference this year, Choose Your Own Adventure, will support program directors and front line staff in providing engaging, enriching, and educational adventures for youth around Oregon. We will inspire you with new ideas and provide you with opportunities to engage in intriguing conversations as you choose your own adventurous path.DSC_0059 (1)

You will Choose Your Own Path this year as we offer discussions & workshop sessions in Social-Emotional Learning, STEAM, Family Engagement, Increasing Equity & Addressing Bias, Behavior Management, Program Management and more! ALL sessions AND the keynote will be linked to the Oregon Registry, providing 6.5 hours of credit for those who stay all day. 

Looking to join us from Rural Oregon? Apply Now for our Rural Travel Reimbursement that provides $150 towards travel and conference expenses. We do have a limited number of scholarships so apply now or contact bethany.thramer@oregonask.org with questions.


8:00 am Registration Opens
9:00 am Conference Starts
9:15 am Keynote in Auditorium with Andrea Hoban
10:45 am Break
11:00 am Campfire Discussions
12:00 pm Lunch and Exhibitors
1:00 pm Workshop Session 1
3:00 pm Break
3:15 pm Workshop Session 2Keynote Flyer FINAL

Campfire Discussions


This year, we want to give everyone a chance to share with one another and ask questions of ‘experts’ from the field about a variety of topics. Each conversation will have time for personal reflection as part of the session, to think about taking new ideas back to implement in your program. Please make sure to select your ideal discussion topic during registration to help make sure each campfire has enough firewood to keep the discussion bright.

  • Working with Museums (Set 1 FCS) Join this discussion about partnering with local museums to see how you can make the most of this wealth of knowledge and expertise. Museum partners will share about their own existing resources, and strategies for building mutually beneficial partnerships.
  • Quality Licensed and Exempt Programs (Set 1 PM) What makes a program high quality? This conversation will discuss the benefits and challenges with being a licensed school age program, and how to utilize a quality framework whether license or exempt.
  • Recognizing and Interrupting Bias  (Set 1 DIV) We want to help participants understand how bias, even unintended biases, can change the environment & impact youth. Learn to recognize our own bias and learn strategies for dealing with bias in our day to day lives
  • Choosing the Right STEM/STEAM Curricula (Set 1 LEC) What programmatic concepts and components of any STEM/STEAM curricula are most important in finding the right fit for your program? How to do you connect it with the school day, NGSS, and more.
  • Supporting Gender Identity Development  (Set 1 DIV) Participants will discuss strategies for working to develop supportive environments for gender variant youth and how to build programming that is inclusive and welcoming to the gender variant youth experience.
  • Preparing Youth for the Future (Set 1 FCS) This discussion will focus on how can afterschool programs can support youth to build skills and understanding for the future workforce. What opportunities can you make available to help connect with workforce, particularly starting in elementary or middle school?
  • Connecting School & Afterschool Wellness (Set 1 HSN) Join this conversation about utilizing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in your program to connect and support School Wellness Policies. Learn more about the policies and standards in place to support healthy youth.
  • Intercultural Relevancy  (Set 1 DIV) We will focus on building a culturally relevant environment in your afterschool program. Participants will discuss and learn strategies for including and reflecting the diversity of your community within your program.
  • Developing Youth Voice (Set 1 HGD) We will discuss building a responsive environment where youth can see their own voices reflected in the program and look for opportunities to for authentically engage youth, no matter what level of influence you have within your program.
  • Boxes: Recognizing Your Role in Conflict and What to Do about it (Set 1 PPLD) Join keynote Andrea Hoban for a deeper look at how our own actions can contribute to the creation of problems we are trying to avoid. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and share with one another about strategies for building an environment that supports youth, families and peers in becoming empowered leaders.

Workshop Sessions

Latina SciGirls: Engaging Middle School-Age Hispanic Girls in STEM
Latina SciGirls is a new Spanish-first SciGirls program (also available in English) that engages Latina girls ages 8-13 and their families in STEM. Participants will explore the program components, practice a hands-on activity, and develop strategies to engage Latinas and their families in STEM through the use of SciGirls bilingual resources. Presented by Alicia Santiago. Set 2 | DIV

Catalyzing Change through Out-of-School Running Clubs
In this active workshop participants will examine how the use of simple running/walking clubs can foster social support, build self-esteem, increase physical activity, and engage their community around health and wellness. Participants will develop strategies on how to achieve these goals and share those strategies with their afterschool community. Presented by Chad Mann. Set 2 | HSN

Including Great Art Practices In Your STEAM Program
This Hands-On Workshop will give you great ideas for making the most of Art in your STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program. We will explore best practices for integrating art and design projects into great STEM curriculum. Participants will leave with clear strategies for relating art and science through creative thinking. Presented by Rachel Kessler. Set 2 | LEC

Working through “Math Trauma”: Approaching Mathematics in After-School and Informal Settings
Mathematics Trauma: That clenching feeling we get in our chests when we see Algebra. This session will focus on advancing student and educator empowerment in STEM by addressing Math Trauma and changing perspectives about math through hands-on activities. Presented by Colin Crane-Smith. Set 2 | LEC

Creating Connections that Help Young People Thrive: Exploring and Applying the Search Institute’s Research on Developmental Relationships
In this session participants will examine the results of the Search Institute’s research on Developmental Relationships and develop strategies for strengthening connections with youth. Presented by Susan Zundel. Set 2 | HGD

Lego Simple and Powered Machines Camp
Participants will learn how to implement the LEGO Simple and Powered Machines Camp. Students will get an in-depth understanding of mechanical and structural principles built into everyday machines. By building, designing, and testing solutions, students work as young scientists and engineers, all while honing design technology, science, and math skills. The class is set up in blocks, with a “creativity & activity break” in the middle, when students will get outside or do other hands-on activities. No experience necessary! Presented by Cathy Law. Set 1 | LEC

Thoughtful Games for Global Awareness
Participants will examine ways to engage students with hands-on activities that can broaden their perspective about the world around them. Participants will explore and practice fun, interdisciplinary games and role-playing activities that explore lifestyles around the globe, environmental connections, health, education, demographics and more. The activities will be focused on children in grades 3-6. Presented by Shirley Lomax. Set 2 | LEC

Partnering With Families
Children come to your program attached to a family unit. Learning to create partnerships with children’s families will help you provide the best service to all children. Learn to communicate successfully with parents, how to set up your relationship for success and what to do when challenges arise. Presented by Dr. Mary Shea. Set 2 | FCS

Introduction to the Mind and Stress
This workshop introduces the mind as a tool for monitoring and modifying stress in our lives. We will use both experiential exercises and theory to explore how we can increase our self-awareness and self-management. It will conclude with dialogue around specific applications and personal goals that leverage the mind. Presented by Jon Dunaway. Set 1 | PPLD

Equitable Teamwork
Teamwork is often fraught with problems. How do you ensure that all student voices are heard? Together, we will explore three processes designed to increase student voice in brainstorming and decision making. Participants will walk away understanding how to use these processes to facilitate student-led projects and to give students a voice in program planning. Presented by Tamara DePue. Set 1 | UGB

Please Put Down your Cell Phone! Strategies to Reverse Technology Addiction in Children
Our children are spending more time on smartphones, tablets, gaming, and computers. Teachers and parents are growing increasingly concerned about how all this “screen time” will affect our children’s lives. We will explore how to encourage our children to practice self-control, and unplug from unhealthy distractions. Presented by Richard Halpern. Set 2 | UGB

Second Session

Montessori Hacks: How a 110 Year Old Pedagogy Can Inform Your Practice
Participants will explore how Montessori philosophy and pedagogy can help them meet the developmental needs of children in their programs. Insights from over 100 years of Montessori practice that are still relevant today can help educators create spaces that offer more autonomy and hands on learning in all areas. Presented by Jennifer Wyld.
Set 2 | LEC

The Impact of Micro Messages on Students’ STEM Engagement and Learning
In this session participants will examine the concept of micromessages – subtle, conscious and unconscious messages – and how they impact students’ mindsets and their belief in their ability to be successful in STEM. Participants will also examine gender, and culturally-based implicit biases that occur in diverse learning environments. Through self-awareness and reflection activities participants will identify their own implicit biases and develop strategies to counteract those biases. Presented by Alicia Santiago.
Set 2 | DIV

Great Art in Afterschool: Creative Art Projects and Activities for School-Age Youth
This hands-on workshop will run through fun art-based activities for school age kids that go beyond crafts and explore learning about and creating amazing artwork! Presented by Rachel Kessler. Set 2 | LEC

Electrical Engineering, Robotics, & Elementary Kids
Come join us with hands-on activities to explore how elementary school kids can learn Electrical Engineering concepts! Participants will examine elements that motivate students and engage them in a higher level of learning in all subjects – not just robotics! Presented by Zayne Mayfield & Zyan Mayfield. Set 2 | LEC

Teaching vs. Facilitating Learning: Committing to Engagement
In this session we will explore how the presentation of a lesson can engage students while remaining inspired ourselves. Presented by Aiko Sato. Set 2 | LEC

How New Federal & State Policies Impact Afterschool Programs
There are new federal and state level policies that impact afterschool programs. Find out what you need to know – and what these changes may mean for your programs. Presented by Dr. Susan Inman. Set 1 | PM

Behavior Support Techniques for School Age Youth
Throughout this session, participants will examine intermediate strategies for addressing challenging behavior. Participants will explore influences on behavior, examine behavior problems, and practice plans to teach skills. Guidelines for responding to behavior will be examined. Presented by Dr. Mary Shea. Set 2 | UGB

Bring your Program to Life with Agriculture
Join us for this engaging hands-on workshop and learn how easy it is to incorporate agriculture and natural resource topics into your program year-round. We will get our hands dirty practicing several lessons and activities that are all ready to use in your program. Presented by Jessica Jansen and Danielle Meyersick. Set 2 Pending | LEC

Working the Clay While It’s Soft: Growing Early Mindsets TM (GEMTM)
Interested in fostering a growth mindset and social and emotional learning (SEL) in young learners? In this session, author Dr. Kendra Coates introduces Growing Early Mindsets™ (GEM™), a new PreK-3rd literacy-based curriculum and instructional approach from Mindset Works, a company founded by Dr. Carol Dweck. Presented by Dr. Kendra Coates. Set 1 | HGD

Power of Play (3:15-4:15pm)
We are constantly negotiating social and emotional situations in our classrooms, our programs and in our community. This workshop examines the important skills needed to be a social and emotional leader of adults. We explore techniques and tools that can be used in our adult interactions as we examine successful workplace interactions. *Please note: This one-hour session is paired with Behavior Management: Transitions and Time Fillers (see below). Attendees are encouraged to attend both sessions, and will not be able to join or leave other Session Two workshops part-way through. Set 1 | HSN

Transitions and Time Fillers (4:15-5:15pm)
Participants will explore and practice strategies to transition students between different activities, reduce or eliminate waiting time, and explore and practice activities that keep students busy and reduce behavior problems. *Please note: This one-hour session is paired with Power of Play (see above). Attendees are encouraged to attend both sessions, and will not be able to join or leave other Session Two workshops part-way through. Set 2 | UGB

Updates and Reminders Archived


Smart Summers

Investing in Experience, Skills, and Oregon’s Future through Summer Learning Report

Participating Organizations

  • Boys and Girls Club of Portland Metropolitan Area
  • Chief Education Office
  • Children First of Oregon
  • Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA)
  • Lebanon Public Library
  • National Summer Learning Association
  • Oregon Community Foundation
  •  Oregon Education Association
  • Oregon Department of Education- District and School Effectiveness
  • Oregon Department of Education- Office of Teaching, Learning and Assessment;
    Migrant Specialist
  • OregonASK Expanded Learning Partnership
  • State Library of Oregon
  • Oregon Library Association
  • Oregon School Board Association
  • Portland Community College Links Programs
  • Saturday Academy
  • Senator Arnie Roblan
  • Representative Jodi Hack

The work group convened five times from May 2017 through September 2017.


Mentoring and the Summer Slide

A unique summer school program in New York City is helping disadvantaged students avoid the summer slide through working with mentors. Practice Makes Perfect pairs students in K-8th grade who need remediation and/or enrichment in the summer with high-achieving, older students from their own neighborhood. These students in 8th-12th grades serve as mentors and tutors for the younger children. In turn, the high school students are mentored by college students who plan to become teachers. For these teaching fellows, the program is an internship. The college students are then supported by veteran classroom teachers, who serve as teacher coaches or mentors for them.
Karim Abouelnaga, the CEO of Practice Makes Perfect calls this mentoring circle their “everyone wins” model. The younger students improve academically, the high school aged mentors are exposed to college students, the teaching fellows get real-world classroom experience, and the classroom teachers receive professional development hours through serving as coaches. The program appears to be working. It has an average attendance rate of 85 percent, and an independent evaluation found that, on average, Practice Makes Perfect scholars return to school a month ahead in math and two months ahead in reading.
The teaching fellows and mentors work to make this experience different from traditional summer school. The focus is on academics, but the curriculum offered is tailored to each school. The students have spirit days once a week and participate in spelling bees and math bees. “The goal is to make learning and education fun, cool, and exciting, and I think that’s what makes the difference for students,” said Abouelnaga.

Students Who Participate in YMCA Summer Programs Make Learning Gains

Students who participated in the Power Scholars Academy Camp through the YMCA last summer were found to have gained an average of 2 months in reading skills and 1.5 months in math skills. Parents and teachers surveyed about the program’s impact reported that the students improved in other areas as well. Eighty-seven percent of teachers reported an increase in their students’ self confidence, while 90 percent of parents reported that their child had a more positive attitude about school.
The Power Scholars Academy Camp uses a curriculum developed by BELL, and the camp runs for six-weeks, 6.5 hours a day. The program targets students who are struggling academically and who lack access to summer learning opportunities. Lauren Gilbert, BELL’s president and chief strategy officer, believes it is the programs’ ability to change students mindsets that leads to the academic gains. “We put a lot of energy into working with the scholars to really see themselves as young people who are capable of learning” said Gilbert.
Bela Moté, vice president of evidence-based youth development interventions and national director of character development with the YMCA of the USA, praised the Power Scholars Academy Camp collaboration with BELL as one that “truly works”. “The program is not only boosting students’ reading and math, but also their self-confidence, and communication skills, which is a powerful combination,” said Moté in a news release. “We are hopeful this program will make a difference in reducing the achievement gap in our schools.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service

As a former AmeriCorps member, serving for a year as a VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America), I was especially disheartened that the Trump administration’s proposed 2018 budget eliminates the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that supports national service and AmeriCorps.

The elimination of AmeriCorps would impact a huge swath of our nation- AmeriCorps members are currently serving in 21,000 communities and there are 80,000 Americans who are currently serving. This translates to 590,000 students served by AmeriCorps members; 40,000 economically disadvantaged individuals; 55,000 veterans and military families receiving critical services; and 800,000 people who AmeriCorps members are helping to recover from natural disasters. CNCS members serve in six areas, disaster services, education, healthy futures, economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, and veterans and family services.

Speaking to my experience as an AmeriCorps, the work these members are doing makes a real difference to the organizations and communities they serve. Cutting this funding will have a ripple effect- impacting not only the AmeriCorps members and those they directly serve, but the communities they are in, and the larger communities those are located in- and our entire nation.

I would like to call on you to stand with me in advocating for the value of national service, and the role that CNCS and AmeriCorps play in supporting the growth of our communities and our nation. Your voice matters, and if you have even a minute I encourage you to take action right now to ensure that Congress does not let this plan become reality.